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Friday, October 23, 2015

Potter County: Successes Grow At Women’s Residential Rehabilitation Center

Potter County Today

womenscenterMembers of the Potter County’s Women’s Residential Rehabilitation Center Advisory Board met on Friday after an eventful month at the facility on the Northern Tier Children’s Home campus. Ten women have completed the treatment program and successfully re-entered society. Population is now at eight residents, with three more expected soon. Women who are court-ordered to the Harrison Valley facility receive comprehensive services designed to reduce their chances of re-offending. 

A project of the Potter County Board of Commissioners and Potter County Human Services, in cooperation with the court system and social services agencies, it’s the only center of its kind in the state. Advisory Board members heard Friday that multiple agencies and/or universities have expressed an interest in studying the center as a model for other county-based criminal justice alternatives. A deputy Pa. Attorney General has also requested updates.

residential-treatment-facilityBoard members were advised that administrators are proceeding slowly to assure that any gaps in the comprehensive rehabilitation program can be addressed. As the number of residents grows, staffing levels will be reviewed for possible additions. 

The center is open to non-violent women, many of whom are in need of substance abuse and/or mental health treatment, employability support, educational assistance and other services. They’re housed in a residential setting, where families are able to visit and participate in structured counseling sessions with the detainee. 

Potter County Judge Stephen Minor and District Attorney Andy Watson, along with defense lawyers, confer to determine if a woman offender is eligible for admission to the center as an alternative to jail. Advisory Board members reviewed advanced training conducted for the center’s staff, focusing on ethics and boundaries, administering medication, anger management/de-escalation, women’s health, motivational interviewing and employment options. 

Both Judge Minor and District Attorney Watson expressed their continued support for the center. Board members also discussed the formation of a separate committee to review disciplinary procedures and related policies, and they reviewed the Women’s Center handbook.

Melissa Gee
State funding is covering the majority of costs. Additional operating revenue is coming from the admission of a limited number of out-of-county women. Cameron County is now sending women who meet admission criteria to the Potter County center and paying $65 per day for each resident. Discussions are being held with officials from Tioga, McKean and Elk counties. 

“Cost avoidance” is also part of the funding package. Potter County currently pays approximately $65 per day to send its female offenders to out-of-county jails, so operating the Harrison Valley center as an alternative is reducing those costs. The program complements the county’s “specialty courts” project, providing special handling of criminal cases involving alcoholics and other drug addicts; and a new re-entry initiative that involves one-on-one counseling of men who are being released from the Potter County Jail. 

Executive Director Melissa Gee and two caseworkers are responsible for coordinating a comprehensive schedule that includes access to drug, alcohol, mental health and educational services. Work release is available for some residents. Board members heard Friday that two women who were residents of the center have since been released and are employed full-time at a Harrison Valley business where they had worked while in residence.


Anonymous said...

This is something Potter County should be proud of. There was a story in the Bradford Era about the new trend of not sending non violent criminals to jail for long terms. Looks like we are ahead of the curve. Good job!

Anonymous said...

I need to know how thy can keep that place running and pay the staff for $65.00 a day... There has to be more to this scam !!!And by the way most of the drug and alcoholics do NOT want to change....

Anonymous said...

I am glad this is available in our area, but I still question the NTCH Thrift Stores' place in the equation. Where do the profits go from them? In many cases the people donating to these stores and the people shopping at these stores are unaware that there have been no children at the "home" for many years.

Anonymous said...

another program for the taxpayers to pay for.Glad I retired so I don't have to pay for all the freebees and the added employees at the county level